Does Daylight Saving Time Ending Cause More Accidents? 

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By Marcus Fernandez

If you’re an hour early for an appointment on November 6, you probably forgot to set your clocks back one hour the night before. Two o’clock in the morning on November 5, 2023, marks the end of daylight saving time and a return to standard time in Tampa. Daylight saving time began in the spring when everyone set their clocks ahead. 

Not being on time for appointments is not the only consequence of daylight saving time. Learn more as the Tampa personal injury lawyers at KFB Law explain the surge in traffic accidents associated with changing the clocks twice a year. You’ll learn about the factors that increase the risk of accidents, the steps to stay safe, and your rights when injured in a traffic accident. 

Why do we have daylight saving time?

The logic behind daylight saving time is simple. Take advantage of sunlight to reduce electricity use by setting clocks ahead one hour in the spring. Then, setting them back an hour in the fall. The second Sunday in March marks the start of daylight saving time (DST). It ends the first Sunday in November when standard time returns. 

Not everyone is in favor of continuing the biannual resetting of the clocks. Florida is among 19 states that passed laws to remain on DST year-round, but clocks in those states must continue to “spring forward and fall back,” at least for now. Congress needs to pass legislation allowing states to adopt DST permanently. But, until that happens, folks in Tampa will reset their clocks twice a year.

Losing sleep when clocks jump ahead

A comprehensive university study reported a 6% increase in fatal car accidents associated with daylight saving time. The study found that setting the time ahead in the spring caused people to lose an hour of sleep while forcing them to make their morning commute to work in the dark. 

Fatigue and drowsiness caused by a lack of sleep affect your ability to drive, including: 

  • Impairing your ability to think and react quickly to situations that may occur.
  • Causing you to fall asleep or nod off while driving.
  • Impairing vision and judgment.

Keep an eye out for the following warning signs, which indicate you’re too tired to drive:

  • You’re frequently yawning.
  • Your car runs over the rumble strip on the side of the road.
  • Your vehicle drifts out of its lane.
  • You miss a turn or cannot recall the last few minutes of driving.

If you recognize signs that suggest you’re too tired to drive, pull over to find a safe spot and rest.

How to adjust to the start of DST

Instead of trying to adjust to the time change after it happens, use the following suggestions to plan and prepare for the spring changeover to daylight saving time:

  • Your body needs time to adjust to a new sleep pattern, so begin preparing for DST a few days before the night the time jumps ahead an hour. One way to do this is to start going to bed and getting up one hour earlier to allow your body to adjust to the new sleep pattern.
  • When the morning after the time change arrives, give yourself extra time to get to work, school, or wherever you’re headed. Being late increases the risk of driving too fast to compensate for lost time. 
  • Watch out for other drivers who may not have prepared themselves to lose an hour of sleep. Practice defensive driving and remain vigilant for other motorists who might be tired or drowsy.

Remember to set your alarm clock an hour before bed to avoid rushing to get to your destination on time.

Fall end of DST and safe driving

Turning clocks back in the fall comes with its hazards. This includes forcing you to use headlights when you may not have needed them only a day before. Here are a few tips for safe driving when DST ends:

  • As the days grow shorter, it’s important to use your headlights. Prior to the time change, inspect them for proper functionality, and arrange for repairs if necessary
  • Pedestrians and bicycle riders can be difficult to see in low-light conditions, particularly when wearing dark clothing, so watch for them. 
  • An earlier sunrise could affect your ability to see. The commute to work requiring headlights to see may call for sunglasses and using your car’s visor once the clocks return. 
  • Drive defensively as other motorists struggle to adjust to standard time, and avoid talking or texting on a cell phone or other distractions that take your attention away from the road.
  • Keep your windshield clean. Dirt and streaks make it challenging to see through the glare of morning sunlight or the headlights of oncoming vehicles.

It’s easy to overlook because you gain an extra hour of sleep when the clocks are set back, but the end of DST can disrupt your sleep pattern. Keep it in mind and ensure you get enough rest to keep it from affecting your driving skills.

Speak to a Tampa personal injury lawyer 

If you’re unlucky enough to sustain an injury in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses. A consultation with a Tampa car accident lawyer at KFB Law gives you advice you can trust about your rights and how to enforce them. Learn more by contacting KFB Law today.